Spider with egg sac
We have many of these cellar spiders in our house—too many, in fact. I feel that it’s partly my fault because I don’t like to kill them. I will catch and release spiders outside but more often than not I just let them be. Which means they’re left to multiply and build more messy webs. The other morning I found two in our kitchen and one had an object that didn’t look like a meal. I was getting ready for work so considered just leaving them alone, but I was fascinated by the object and thought it might be an egg sack. Ooooh! I’d love to photograph that. Long story short (errrr… sort of) I did pull out my camera, macro lens, flash and a large corning ware dish. I caught each spider and put the female in the dish. They can climb walls and many things, but have trouble with glass and ceramic. The white casserole dish made a decent photo studio and kept her in one place.
Close up of spider and egg sac
She was holding onto an egg sack and here are some pictures. I thought the pattern on the eggs was really something; they were certainly not what I’d expected. In many ways, these are uninteresting spiders. They don’t have much color, are extremely common, and leave their messy webs everywhere. As is often the case, however, there can be something interesting when you look very closely.
Female and male cellar spiders
The second was definitely a male, possibly her mate although she wasn’t particularly interested in him. She seemed pretty upset to be in the dish. After I snapped several shots I released them both outside.
I’ve recently had several changes in my life, but they’ve been for the better. The first of September I left my job of almost three years and started a new one. In the process I also got a very different schedule; I’m working noon to 8:30. I do leave earlier on the two days of the week that I teach clogging; my bosses knew of my classes before I started and were fine with that. I’ve adjusted OK to this schedule, which has it’s plusses and minuses, of course.
I feel the new job is working out; it’s quite different from what I’ve done for the last 25 years or so (working in the printing industry). Much of what I’m doing is not difficult or challenging, but I do get to be a little creative now and then and I like the people I work with, which is so important.
Along with the new schedule—having mornings free—I started swimming laps three times a week. We’re fortunate to have a large indoor pool about 10 minutes away. I’ve always enjoyed swimming but rarely get to do it, so when I started I took it very easy and gradual. I’m not a fast swimmer but I am a comfortable swimmer. I’m now swimming twice as far as I did on my first day two months ago and feeling really good about it.
This fall I upgraded to an iMac from an Apple G5 computer and I’m loving it. Along with the new computer I also have new office space—our sons’ old bedroom. Having the whole room gives me space for my photo projects and I’ve already filled it up. I’m really enjoying my new office.
The last major change—and the most exciting—is the birth of our first grandchild at the end of May. He’s now five and a half months old and never ceases to make us smile. What a charmer! He lives about 6 hours away but thanks to the internet, email, cell phones, and videos, we get regular updates on his progress. We’re looking forward to seeing the family at Thanksgiving.
Around the end of the year we’ll welcome our second grandchild, also a boy. The excitement continues.
The picture at the top of the post was taken in the fall of 2009. A solitary red leaf clings to an otherwise bare vine climbing a wall in Fremont, California.
Kitty passed away this week. That was her name, just Kitty. 14 years ago she walked into my brother’s family’s life when she showed up at their doorstep. Perhaps she knew that they would give her a good home, even though they were really dog people and also had a yellow lab.
Sure enough, she became a part of the family but still kept her independence. She seemed to be as comfortable outdoors as indoors. She gave happiness to those who enjoyed stroking her and making her purr and received happiness in return.
Kitty seemed to be a very smart cat. One of the things my brother liked about her was that she learned a lesson just once. They had a special relationship, this dog person and Kitty, but the whole family loved her.
When my brother and sister-in-law learned she was sick they did what they could to make her last days as comfortable and happy as possible.
This is one of my favorite pictures of Kitty with my brother and Molly, their yellow lab, in the background.
My son says I’m too nice. That’s part of my problem. I want to help out others and have a hard time saying, “no.” Last night I did say “no” and still feel bad about it. It’s a project that I’ve done for a few years off and on (the layout of an event program book). I enjoy doing the layout and am proud to be able to do a good job with it, but the job also comes with frustrations. One of the biggest issues is the stress that grows as I have less and less time to work on it as I’d like.
I’d really like to help out but know that it would not be good for me in the long run. I wish I had the time and resources to be able to volunteer my time for many organizations. Since I don’t, I have to say no to some of them, even though I’d enjoy the work. I think most of us have a part of us that wants to please others. We feel good if we’re able to help someone out. Volunteering our time can do as much for us as it does for the recipient, unless it gets to be a burden. So we have learn when to draw the line.
The photo above was taken a few years ago near my work. The stop sign had been planted in the middle of some unused railroad tracks. I’m sure it was a warning in case a train accidentally ended up on those tracks. Notice the tracks behind the sign.
Small fishing and sport boats can be seen on the ocean just off Dana Point, California. We were there in January on an especially warm weekend. I almost feel bad showing this while thinking of the folks dealing with blizzards in most parts of the country this week. I love California!
The sea was so calm and flat that day – rather unusual, even for California.
Moon partially eclipsed
I’ve seen quite a few lunar eclipses, but this was the first that also coincided with the winter solstice. Not that they really have much to do with each other, but they’re both “astronomical” events, I suppose.
I didn’t expect to see it as we’d had predictions of rain and cloud cover for some time. When I left my clogging class in San Jose for home, the clouds were very thin and we could see the full moon through them. By the time I got home there was a nice big hole in the clouds and the eclipse had started.
So I hauled all my stuff into the house and grabbed my camera, 200mm lens, tripod, and heavy coat to spend some time outside. One nice thing about a lunar eclipse is that it can usually be viewed from your own back yard. It’s nice to have a warm house with other comforts close by on a cold night.
Lunar eclipse in totality.
Back to the photography… The 200mm lens really isn’t long enough to fill the frame with the moon so these shots have been cropped considerably. It can be hard to focus at night but I recently learned a cool trick. I turn on my camera’s live view, enlarge the image, and then fine tune the focus manually. It works really well! These moon shots still aren’t as sharp as I’d like, but I think that’s more a limitation of my optics. Still, it’s nice to have some of my own pictures of the eclipse.
During a lunar eclipse, the moon appears red because the light is reflected from the earth and must pass through our atmosphere, particles and all.
Light painting a spiral
In October our daughter and her boyfriend were here for a few days. On the last evening we had a little fun with light painting. The darkest spot around our house is the driveway. It’s not ideal, but good enough to play and experiment. It’s also easy to do. All you need is a camera with manual settings (so that you can make exposures of several seconds or more), a tripod or other way to keep the camera still, and a source of light. We had three sources: a blue light stick, a small flashlight, and a second flashlight with a red light option.
Light painting a heart
These pictures are some of my favorites from that night. More can be seen on my SmugMug gallery here.
Jenn outlined in blue
Today is Thanksgiving and we’ll be leaving soon to visit family and enjoy a good dinner. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone and I hope your gatherings are warm and memorable.